More than Just Stone Faced Moai on Easter Island

Colorful fishing boats of the Rapa Nui, on Easter Island

The Rapa Nui are the original inhabitants of Easter Island.  On the boat above the red smiley face looking design is a drawing of a decorative chest ornament called a reimiro worn by the original Rapa Nui women. On each end of the red canoe design a face appears on the chest plate.  This is the basis of the Easter Island flag.  So now we know the owner of the boat is a proud, patriotic fisherman.


The flag of Easter Island


Many Fishing Boats

Walking along the small harbor in Easter Island it struck me how very similar every boat was.  Nobody had a materially bigger nor newer boat than any of their neighbors.  All engines were similar and no dual engine crafts.  No money for showing off or no desire, everyone was in the same boat, so to speak.  During days when the island is inundated with gray haired tourists from the ship, some of these fishing vessels are used to ferry out visiting swimmers and divers to sites for added income.


Land Squabbles at Hotel Hangaroa

Walking from the harbor into the town, you pass on odd array of black flags and protest signs painted on plywood encircling a luxury hotel.  You do not need to be fluent in Spanish to understand these are not signs of adulation.  The hotel is involved in a land dispute.  As in every legal argument, there are two sides. The hotel owners say land was sold to the city many years ago by the former native owners for a fair price and the city sold it to these hotel developers.  Now the descendants of the former landowners want the hotel lands back because under Chilean law only Rapa Nui people can own land on the island.  They say the current Chilean administration continues to violate international law.

Is it possible these ongoing protests are the reason the Hotel Hangaroa is having a sale on TripAdvisor as I write?  The normal per night rate of $1,271 can be yours for only $782 US. We elected to stay in our ship cabin.


Barking Dogs as Expected

Barking dogs run wild.

After traveling to many countries of British heritage and those which were conquered by the Spanish, we have noted numerous clear and distinct differences.  One is the presence of dogs constantly barking and running wild on the streets of Spanish settled countries like Chile, Peru, Mexico and even my home state of New Mexico.  This is in stark contrast to the exceedingly well behaved dogs of England, Ireland, Scotland, New Zealand and Australia etc.  After two months in New Zealand and Australia, I have yet to hear a single barking dog or see even one running loose in any town.  I addressed this in some detail in a prior post:   Unexpected Findings in Europe

I was peacefully concentrating on focal length distances photographing the boats when all heck broke loose and three barking dogs gave chase to the two barking dogs in the passing pickup truck.  Such a scene can be quaint when the tourist is simply passing through.  However, when renting a place amid such chaos for a  week, constantly barking dogs are quite the irritation.


Driving to the Moai

Horses roam freely

Horses roam freely (iPhone Photo)

We were told these are wild horses which roam freely on the island and number in the thousands. Some Internet sites contradict this and say they are all branded and owned by someone, but obviously do roam freely about the island.  Whichever it is, the result is the same for the tourist.  Beware when driving on the roads, horses may gallop out at any time.


Chimango Caracara hawk.  That is its name, not the fancy scientific name.

These introduced hawks are plentiful on the island.  This one at the Moai quarry site appeared to be eating some fish.


angry sea

As George Costanza said, “The sea was angry that day my friends…”

The tempestuous surf kept me busy for a couple hours.  The turquoise waters and the blowing surf was captivating.  These two surf photos show the different scenes possible using a fast or a slow shutter speed.


Leaving Easter Island

Our tour of the island was over, having visited the several moai sites on my list.  However, our thoughtful guide felt we would really be missing out if we did not visit her favorite spot on the island.  So she drove us to the top of the mountain by the  town of Hanga Roa to see the volcanic crater Rano Kau.  What a beautiful sight and surprise.  It is not the largest volcano on the island, but likely the most beautiful.  We were the only people here as the ship tours went to the volcano at the opposite end of the island.

Goodbye moai, time to get back on the ship.

We spend two more days at sea and our next stop is the Pitcairn Islands, the site of the 1789 sinking of the HMS Bounty following the famous mutiny.


8 thoughts on “More than Just Stone Faced Moai on Easter Island

  1. Very much enjoyed this write up, Harold. Of course, the vocally reservedness of the dogs are perplexing me, and I have spent much effort contemplating said condition. My best theory for this anomaly is that canine English is much, much more difficult to master than canine Spanish. As such, it may be that, if forced to speak it, dogs in those countries simply give up on verbal expression, and live a mute’s life. Another idea is that high duty-cycle use of canine English is an irritant to a dog’s vocal cords. If so, however, our dog may not actually be barking English. I don’t know, since I am not fluent in dog.

  2. I think you did the smart thing by not going with the cruise line tour and getting your own guide. You saw things much closer up and personal and your photos show that. I have total travel envy for your trip. I have so wanted to go to Easter Island and next Pitcairn, where I’ve wanted to go for years. We planned to sail our sailboat to all those places back in the 1990’s but never got there. Guess I’ll have to hijack David on to a cruise ship to see it all for myself! Keep on posting!! XO

    • I enjoy the days at sea and there are several, before and after Easter Island and Pitcairn. It is not a bad way to go. Tell David to get with the programme. The ship spent the night at Easter Island. But Oceania made a big deal saying that due to rough seas day two may be cancelled. That scared those who were staying on Easter Island that night. Staying on the Island is the only way to get sunrise and sunset photos due to time limits of tendering.

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